Reconsider nuclear plans, urges MCA, DAP

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

By Hemananthani Sivanandam and Azril Annuar

KUALA LUMPUR (March 14, 2011): MCA has joined Barisan Nasional component party Gerakan in urging the government to reconsider its proposed nuclear power plant programme in light of the inherent danger to the general public.

MCA president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek advised the government to see whether there is a real need and necessity for a nuclear power plant in the country.

“Well nuclear power is something new for Malaysia. From what happened in Japan, it has brought to light the dangers of such nuclear plants. Any plant near coastal area seems to be dangerous. But the problem is, nuclear plants require a lot of water, this is what the government needs to relook,”Chua told reporters after attending the 75th Anniversary of George Kent Berhad.

Two explosions have rocked the Fukushima nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, which was hit by a 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 10m-high tsunami on Friday. Japanese authorities have declared a nuclear state of emergency and evacuated people in a 20-mile radius of the plant, where three reactors have suffered failure in their cooling systems, triggering fears of a nuclear disaster.

Chua explained that there has been discussions in the Economic Council around a month and a half ago but the government has not made any commitment or final decisions on the matter.

“I am sure the Prime Minister will revisit and look into this matter in light of the danger,” he added.

Yesterday, Gerakan’s head of environment, safety and quality of life bureau Dr Cheah Soon Hai reportedly said the government should re-assess the pros and cons, benefits and risks of having nuclear plants in the country.

He proposed that the government sets up a Parliamentary Select Committee to get views and experts’ advice on the matter.

“The government cannot ignore the public’s concern and apprehension over health and safety aspects. The people’s welfare must come first,” stated Cheah.

However, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui indicated that the government will proceed with its plan to build two nuclear power plants despite the tragedy that has befallen Japan.

He added that all aspects will be considered before a final decision is made, adding that the “government will not do it secretly without informing the public.”

In the Parliament lobby today, the DAP urged the government to abandon the idea of setting up nuclear power plants to generate electricity.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said the recent tragedy in Japan is a warning about the dangers of nuclear energy.

“Japan has had nearly 60 years of experience with nuclear power, yet there has still been a history of accidents.

“In 1999, there was a major accident at Tokaimura where a nuclear fuel-enrichment facility had an out-of-control reaction, leading to radiation leakage affecting hundreds of people and crippling the local agriculture industry.

“If a country with as much expertise and experience as Japan can fall foul of nuclear accidents, then Malaysia should not go nuclear as the risks and costs of failure are too great,” said Santiago during a press conference.

Santiago said a nuclear reactor requires vast quantities of water to cool the reactor, which is why they are usually situated next to rivers or the sea. However, this leaves them vulnerable to water-related disasters such as tsunamis, floods and storm surges, or even droughts.

Santiago also said under Malaysia’s atomic energy law, nuclear plant operators are not liable for any damage resulting from natural disaster. — theSun

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